By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | MAY 7, 2012
All around the world there seems to be a wave of people kicking their leaders’ rear ends. The most recent examples of these manifestations of non-conformity with business as usual politics began in Spain, where Mariano Rajoy took over the steering wheel from a failed Jose Luis Zapatero. Then came Greece, who changed its leader George Papandreou for Lucas Papademos.
Over the weekend, elections in France and Germany, carried on the ball as Moamer Khadafi’s friend, Nicolas Zarkozy was unseated as France’s president. He yielded his post to Mr. Francois Hollande. Angela Merkel suffered significant loses in Germany, as her centre-right government coalition lost power in the state of Schleswig-Holstein. By the end of this week, once the counting of the votes is over with, she could also be a victim of what seems to be a generalized european mini-political quake. In Europe, the only nation that seems to have escaped the technocratic attack was Iceland, whose leaders were not totally in the pockets of the bankers who have now taken over Greece.
Meanwhile, in the United States, most of the media has collaborated to pick Mitt Romney as the Republican candidate for president after Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum realized they did not have enough cash to financed their campaigns or pay their debts. Both Santorum and Gingrich are lobbying Romney to take care of those debts in exchange for their vote and support. Most of the gains made by Romney comes from his beauty contest victories obtained during the caucus and primaries, which enabled him to get the highest number of unpledged delegates among his fellow candidates.
Different from the European contests, the American election system is more like a pageant, and the candidate is only elected during a national party meeting. Conventional wisdom would dictate that Romney would be elected as the man to face a decaying Barack Obama in November, and that is what the main stream media and the Republican Party’s machine has tried to do since both Santorum and Gingrich left the race. But in the middle of all the chicanery created to have Romney be the candidate for president, the wave of American discontent seems to be rising. Although many state caucuses and primaries were reported as won by Santorum, Gingrich and Romney himself, the official results in several of those states had not been announced. In the last two weeks, at least five states have changed the outcome of the previously announced results. It turns out that it wasn’t Romney, Santorum or Gingrich who won those states. It was Texas Representative Ron Paul.
Nevada, Washington State, Iowa, Maine and Louisiana are now official Paul’s states. He has also made significant gains in Minnesota and Missouri. So, while the Romney campaign was enjoying the feeling of inevitability, a hard working group of Paul supporters made sure that their votes had the weight they were supposed to have up until the last moment. The Paul campaign has quietly picked up an important number of delegates after Romney was officially ‘elected’ by the GOP to face Obama in November. With his recent gains, Paul is making strides to force a brokered convention in Florida, as supposed to allow Romney to enjoy a victory lap all by himself.
The issue with all the political revolts both in Europe and in the US is whether those revolts against the establishment corporate-backed candidates has rendered or will render anything positive for the people who booted their leaders out of office. In the case of Europe there has been little progress, especially in Greece. After George Papandreu left, the country accepted so-called financial aid from the European Union and adopted a harsh package of government austerity whose only significant result has been the increase in political suicides. Greece is in a worse condition than ever before. The thought that a rich country would eventually be able to pay for its debt in no longer the ephimerous guarantee that it was before. Greece, one of those supposed rich countries is now less capable of paying off his debt than before the sovereign debt problem became apparent. Neither is France, Spain, Portugal or any other European nation. So in the case of the Greek, the change has not been that great. It has been for the worse indeed.
In the case of Spain, things are much different. The government led by Mariano Rajoy has basically continues the same strategy that Zapatero had, which is a powerful government sponsored economy. Since Rajoy took power, the government has not done anything to generate more revenue other than raising taxes. It has also adopted austerity programs in exchange for financial bailouts as it increases government spending in traditional entitlement programs. Spain’s financial health is worse today that it was before, and perhaps it is even worse than Greece. In addition to the gigantic out of control debt, the socialist government continues to borrow money at a very high cost. The unemployment rate has reached 24% which has spurred major economic problems everywhere. Why will Spain be worse than Greece? Because its economy is four times the size of Greece. Economic activity in Spain adds up to just about 12% of the GDP generated in the Eurozone, which makes it the fourth most important in the old continent and number 10 in the world. A Spanish default will cause a quake that whose ripples will be felt all over the planet. It could even mean the collapse of the Eurozone, analysts say.
France’s economic prospects aren’t that much better. This state of affairs together with Nicolas Sarkozy’s thirst for war cost him his position as president. But will the change be for the best? Has socialism ever worked for the best? The questions is not rhetorical as France’s new leader is a socialist. France lost its AAA rating, if that means anything, while its unemployment continues to rise, even with cooked numbers to over 10%. The country is today in a similar situation than Spain and Italy, drowning in economic insecurity and a growing inability to pay its debt, which is a country’s best presentation card to gain trust and obtain cheap credit. The lousy results of Sarkozy’s window dressing economic and fiscal policies resulted in no growth, to which he responded with more proposals to change the direction of the country. Too little too late, many would say as he lost the election to François Hollande. Mr. Sarkozy wanted to impose a an increase in the value-added tax on consumption, allow companies more flexibility to negotiate working hours and pay, and enshrine a balanced-budget requirement in the Constitution. His intentions did not pick up speed with the French, who found out about his secret dealing with murdered Libyan leader Moamer Khadafi.
Perhaps the only country that looks better is Germany, both financially and politically. But this state of affairs may not last too long. Angela Merkel is also managed to shine panic among the german people. The latest example of her failure to deliver is the loss of support, although small, could begin to shape what the national election will look like in 2013. As Germany seems to be the only European state with a stronger footing, a different issue becomes center stage. As reported by the Express newspaper, German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle is working secretly to create an all powerful European leadership position that will merge the powers of the presidency of the European Council and the European Commission while leaving the United Kingdom out of the group. “This is a plot by people who want to abolish nation states and create a United States of Europe,” said one of the opponents of the secret group. Tory MP Douglas Carswell said that it doesn’t matter how the powers of the Council and the Commission are arranged, so long as the technocrats in control of Europe don’t have the ability to dictate the people’s way of living. “They are not elected so they have no legitimacy.”
With the new Greek Prime Minister mortgaging the future of the country by adopting new but ineffective austerity programs and calling austerity a “patriotic duty” there doesn’t seem to be a way out for the Mediterranean nation that now lays in the hands of its creditors. Spain, on the other hand seems to be walking in Greece’s direction as its leaders begin to adopt similar policies of indebtedness and government spending without generating any real job opportunities for the growing numbers of unemployed — especially those under 25 years of age — who are now called the lost generation. “This is the least hopeful and best educated generation in Spain,” said local blogger Ignacio Escolar. Unemployment for the young in Spain has reached 52% this Spring.
It all comes down to the US then, doesn’t it? Will Americans start a ‘summer spring’ that will continue the wave of much needed change, or will they continue to foolishly trust their corporate chosen leaders to bring about change instead of kicking them out for good? It was the Americans who fought the British for temporary independence after all, wasn’t it? With a skyrocketing debt of over $16 trillion and a growing unemployment rate — some 100 million Americans are out of the work force today — Americans will have to choose between the two party dictatorship model that has dragged them downthe hole they’re in today, or the better option that will indeed get the ball rolling to bring about real change. A major shakedown in the United States could be the trigger for a worldwide awakening and/or rise of unimpressed people who will clamp down on their governments out of control collusion with corporate interests. Someone needs to light up the match in order for the fire to ignite.